Ratified Covenants

“To give a human example, brothers, even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.” (Gal. 3:15)

This verse introduces the subject of which covenant was the church living under. Was it the covenant God made with Abraham or the covenant God made with Israel? The Galatian churches were trying to live under both, taking the blessings of the first and keeping the requirements of the second. For over 1500 years the Jewish nation had been living under the covenant God made with Israel. It was extremely difficult for them to let it go. Paul wants them to understand that the covenant made with Israel was temporary and never intended to supersede the covenant made with Abraham.

The Jewish covenant was for the Jews, the people of Old Israel. The Abrahamic covenant was for Jews and Gentiles, the people of a New Israel. The Sinai covenant was made to be in effect until the promise was realized and the promise was realized in the offspring of Abraham, namely Jesus of Nazareth. In the overall scheme of things, the covenant with Israel was a parenthetical insertion into the overall plan of God for the lost race of mankind. The Jews, Christian or not, were not prepared for the parenthetical covenant to end. That covenant was based on the law of Moses and that covenant was nailed to the cross by Jesus. We consult Colossians 2:13, 14. “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.”

Paul uses the idea that once a man-made covenant has been made legal it can’t be set aside or changed in any way. He is comparing what seems to him to be common law practiced in the world at that time. This is a general statement and so looking for an occasion where the premise is violated is not in the spirit of the argument. Paul is stating how it should be. Once a covenant has been ratified it’s good. In this case, the promises made in regard to the Gentiles and the New Israel were made in a covenant that predated circumcision and the Mosaic Law. Therefore, the Mosaic Law or covenant with Israel cannot change or halt the covenant made with Abraham because that covenant was ratified by God who does not change or waver.

It is possible that the Jewish brethren had not looked at the two covenants in this way. Having lived under the Law for so long they thought that it held the promises of God. Yet they knew that it did not hold promises for the Gentiles because it was not a covenant made with non-Israelites.

Task for Today: Keep one thing in mind, all of God’s promises come to pass. Every single one of them. In Abraham God promised you the blessings of the coming one. You do not have to keep the legal demands of the Law because you are in a covenant of faith and grace. Believe and you will receive. God will open the windows of heaven for his New Covenant people. Trust on the Lord with all your might and thank Him for His many blessings in the Abrahamic covenant.

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